The Top 7 Sweet Health Benefits Of Cherries (+ Recipes & ‘How To Grow’ Guide)

These little fruits are bursting with intense sweet, juicy flavors and colors, and are favored for their taste. Not all cherries are actually sweet though, with a sour variety popular for baking into desserts. But there is a lot more to both sweet and tart cherries, than their taste and use as a dessert ingredient. They have some powerful and unusual nutrients that come with a range of impressive health benefits…

health-benefits-of-cherries

 

Let’s Talk About Cherries…

Cherries are small tree fruits that have an intensely sweet flavor and vary in color, from light red through to deep purple. They are members of the same fruit family as plums, peaches, apricots, and, funnily enough, almonds. Cherries tend to be regarded as a dessert fruit, favored for their use in pies, crumbles and Black Forest cakes. However, despite the amount of fructose in cherries, they can actually be very healthy, and we’ll get to that soon! There are two main cherry varieties – sweet and tart, or sour. Most people would be familiar with the more popular sweet varieties, such as Bing. They are best enjoyed fresh, raw and unaccompanied, while tart cherries are popular for baking into desserts.

Cherries are believed to have originated in Asia, where it is likely birds then carried them to Europe. They have been eaten for centuries, and were popular in ancient Rome, Greece and China. During the late 1600s, English colonists brought the sweet fruit to the US, and today, they are grown in the northwest of the country and in Michigan. Cherry trees start producing fruit from the age of about five years, but don’t reach full maturity for 10 to 15 years. By that stage, they can produce more than 100 pounds of fruit each season. Cherries have a short peak season in the US of about two to three months, and are grown in both the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere. The US produces around 370 million pounds of cherries each year between May and July. In Australia, it lasts a little longer, starting around October or November and winding down in February. Chile produces about 80% of the southern hemisphere’s cherries, while Australia produces about 10%, with Turkey and the US being the largest producers on a global scale.

Cherry tree

Nutritional Information Of Raw Sweet Cherries (100 grams)

Calories – 63

Total Fat – 0g

Cholesterol – 0mg

Sodium – 0mg

Total Carbohydrates – 16g

Dietary Fiber – 2g

Sugars – 13g

Protein – 1g

Vitamin A – 1% of RDI

Vitamin C – 12% of RDI

Calcium – 1% of RDI

Iron – 2% of RDI

Nutritional Information Of Raw Tart Cherries (100g)

Calories – 50

Total Fat – 0g

Cholesterol – 0mg

Sodium – 3mg

Total Carbohydrates – 12g

Dietary Fiber – 2g

Sugar – 8g

Protein – 1g

Vitamin A – 26% of RDI

Vitamin C – 17% of RDI

Calcium – 2% of RDI

Iron – 2% of RDI

Cherry nutrition

So, as you can see, sour cherries offer far more nutritional value than sweet cherries, with much more nutrient-dense vitamins and less sugar. However, they are definitely not as enjoyable to eat raw, on their own! Tart cherry juice is a good option though, if you want to reap the health benefits of sour cherries. We’ll look closer at that further down the article…

Health Benefits Of Cherries

Besides bursting with sweet and sour flavors, cherries also have a number of impressive health benefits…

1. Cherries Are Rich In Protective Antioxidants

Both sweet and tart cherries contain powerful antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which help reduce inflammation and the risk of disease. Sweet cherries also contain small amounts of quercetin, which is a flavonol type of flavonoid known for its potent antioxidant activity. The benefits of tart cherries have been studied more than sweet cherries, however, one study found that people consuming 280 grams of Bing cherries a day for one month had decreased CRP (inflammation) levels, and that continued for 28 days after they stopped eating cherries.

Eating cherries

2. Cherries Reduce Inflammation & Risk Of Gout

Cherries are high in vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. Studies have shown that consuming vitamin C consistently can help reduce uric acid levels by up to 50%, and control inflammation of joints suffering from gout. The study mentioned in the previous section looked at the effects consuming sweet cherries had on plasma lipids and markers of inflammation in healthy men and women. The subjects supplemented their diets with Bing sweet cherries for 28 days, and, after a 12-hour fast, researchers took blood samples before the start of cherry consumption, 14 days into it, 28 days into it, and 28 days after the discontinuation of cherry consumption. Researchers concluded that CRP levels, which measure inflammation in the body, were decreased by the consumption of cherries, which may be beneficial in the management and prevention of inflammatory diseases. A 2012 study of 633 people with gout found that those who ate half-a-cup of cherries per day (about 10 to 12 cherries), or consumed cherry extract, lowered their risk of a subsequent case of gout by 35%. Participants in the study who ate even more cherries (up to three servings in two days) lowered their risk by 50%.

Collecting cherries

3. Cherries Promote Healthy Sleep

Among the impressive nutrients that cherries possess, including vitamins, minerals and fiber, they have something called melatonin, which is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger hormone that signals the brain when it is time to sleep. It helps relieve excess inflammation and associated oxidative stress. Scientists believe, therefore, that consuming melatonin may help treat sleep disorders like insomnia, playing a major role in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. A study that tested a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled group compared the consumption of tart cherry juice concentrate and a placebo for one week. Researchers measured sleep quality through actigraphy, along with subjective sleep questionnaires. They found that consumption of the cherry juice provided an increase in exogenous melatonin, which improved sleep duration and quality in healthy participants.



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